President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday had a closed-door meeting with the embattled Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara. Dogara is currently in the eye of the storm following allegations by a former Chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, that he (Dogara); the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Yussuff Lasun; the Chief Whip, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; and the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, padded the 2016 Budget. Shortly after the meeting with the President, Dogara spoke to State House reporters.. Excerpts:
Reporter: What informed your visit to the Presidential Villa this Friday?
Speaker: You mean I can’t come and see my President? Do I need any reason to come and see my President. It was a private visit.
Reporter: Was the issue of alleged budget padding discussed?
Speaker: What is budget padding?
Reporter: The language emanated from your chambers
Speaker: I don’t know, educate me. I am a lawyer and the Speaker and I have never heard of the word “padding.” What does “padding” mean?
Reporter: Your former chairman of Appropriation Committee is saying you padded the budget. What is your reaction to that?
Speaker: Ask him. He who alleges must prove; that is the law in Nigeria.
Reporter: Are you not going to defend yourself?
Speaker: Am I before a court?
Reporter: There are people saying you should reconvene the House before September resumption time and step aside for thorough investigation to be carried out. What is your reaction to this?
Speaker: We have rules and regulations. This is not a mock institution, we operate by rules and we will follow the rules.
Reporter: Will you resign?
Speaker: Resign for what? For what?
Reporter: On this allegation.
Speaker: What is the allegation?
Reporter: That you and some members of the leadership padded the budget.
Speaker: What is padding? You haven’t told me. Ask Jibrin what is padding? For me, I studied Law and I have been in the legislature and all this period I have never heard of the word “padding” being an offence under any law. If I don’t know, you are the media, research the law and let me know
Reporter: Are you worried?
Speaker: Worried for what? Worried over nothing? Why should I be worried? As far as I am concerned, I am not worried over anything.
Reporter: Will there be sanctions for Jibrin?
Speaker: I am not the Chairman of Ethics Committee of the House so I wouldn’t know and I don’t know what padding means.